14 Warned

By the time that she had reached back to the small shed outside the minor gods' office, the sun was slowly rising. It painted the sky in shades of blue and orange. Beth tossed her tools in the shed tiredly and sat down on the stairs of the huge building adjacent to it. She took a deep breath of the cool air of the early morning. The dust of the town was yet undisturbed, making the air seem much cleaner than it usually was.

She stared at the slowly fading orange of the sky as lighter hues of blue began to dominate its canvas. Fluffy white clouds dotted the surface, looking like cotton candy. Her tummy grumbled at the thought of food. She regretted sharing her food yesterday night. She had heard that food would only be served once a day. No wonder that they had given them an entire loaf of bread for dinner. Anyone would be famished after a whole day's back-breaking work, Beth thought to herself.

She thought back to what all she had witnessed in the upper town at night. Those gods lived a much fuller life when compared to the likes of them. They must have it easy if all they did was eat and drink during the nights and walked around supervising the servants and the slaves during the day. She hadn't seen even one of them do a physically exerting job till now.

She sighed, shaking her head. If this was the condition of heaven, then she was sure that hell would be worse. It would be easier if she had a way to cheat through the hierarchy and rise up in the ranks in heaven, or even hell, she thought, looking intently at her bracelet. The only one who would know such short-cuts was the system, yet it was still playing dead. That was when she remembered something that it said while giving her the task.

"What did it mean by leveling up?" She wondered aloud, rubbing on the cool metallic surface of the bracelet.

"I see you're early today." A stern voice interrupted her thoughts.

"Eh?!" Beth exclaimed, startled by the sudden intrusion.

She quickly hid her hand inside the folds of her dress. One was looking down at her with her usual cold demeanor. The woman huffed at her response and walked past her, her shoes making a clicking sound as it carried the minor god up the stairs. One paused as she reached the topmost step and turned towards her direction.

"Since you're here," She said, pointing to Beth, "I'll get you your chores for the day."

Beth's jaw dropped in shock. "Already?" The word escaped her mouth involuntarily.

She was too tired and hungry. She hadn't had a wink of sleep after all that work. Not only had she swept all the streets of the lower town clean but she had also gone on a quest to fulfill her task to the other side of the bridge. She had a feeling that it was the first time she had even lifted a broom in the history of her existence. What more could they make a ten-year-old do?!

"Did you say something?" One asked, narrowing her eyes at her.

Beth smiled at the woman awkwardly. She definitely didn't want to get on her bad side. "I said I couldn't wait to get to it." She replied, scratching her head.

The minor god started turning the pages of a voluminous book that only a moment ago wasn't in her possession. Ignoring her honeyed words, the woman said, "Collect the laundry from the servants and wash it." She shut the book close with a loud bang, making Beth shiver.

Talk about demons in heaven! She thought, licking her lips nervously.

The cold woman shook a finger at her in warning and continued. "Make sure you clean it thoroughly. I will not tolerate half-done works."

"Yes, mam," Beth replied, looking at her anxiously.

Number One was a domineering woman. Unlike the other minor gods, she seemed to lack emotions in addition to her cold personality. Beth was scared of her, if not for anything else but for the power that she held that could easily make her life hell, metaphorically and literally.

One raised her brows, looking at her dismissively. "Go on then. What are you waiting for?" She sneered.

Beth nodded before quickly turning away. This was her chance at an escape. Even if what welcomed her was more work, it would be better than shivering under the woman's cold stare.

"And Twenty-three?"

"Yes?" Beth turned around hesitantly.

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"I'd be careful not to roam around too much." One said, folding her hands over her chest.

Beth gulped nervously. What did that mean? Had she been caught? Did the woman chance upon her adventure to the upper town? Her hands and feet turned cold immediately. The prospects of getting punished again were scary. And this time, it would be worse. Slaves weren't allowed to move past the edge of the lower town. Fifty-eight had warned her about the consequences of such actions yesterday. All her efforts would get wasted for nothing.

"I do not understand, mam." She lied, keeping her eyes on her little feet.

One huffed at the statement. "It would be better for you if you did. Run along now." She said, turning away from her.

Beth waited in the same spot till the woman was out of her sight. She sighed in relief. "Phew! That was close." She said, turning away from the building.

She'd have to be more careful from now on, she reminded herself. But how did the woman find out? She wondered. She hadn't seen One anywhere around yesterday night in the upper town. Beth shook her head, clearing her mind of all the questions. Her eyes were burning from the lack of sleep, and the sun's rays were starting to get harsher.

"Now, where do I find the servants' quarters?" She wondered aloud, her shoulders hunched from exhaustion.

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